Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I Am Woman - Hear Me Laugh


You don’t have to be a certain age to enjoy Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck (And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman). For those of you who haven’t yet reached your golden years (of decline) use this book as a guide on your journey to “that place.”

(Check out the above link for further details and a wonderful excerpt.)

Reflecting upon everything from designer purses to menopause, Ephron meant to be funny and hit her mark — big time. Some books make you smile, some make you chuckle and some bring forth a hearty laugh. This book fits into the latter category. And a hearty laugh is good for you at any age.

Prior to reading the book, I’d read a review criticising Ephron for emphasizing the downfalls (and pitfalls) of the female aging process. Yes, she does — and she does a fabulous job doing so by utilizing humor. To those who’ve either written (or praised) a book that emphasizes how wise, mature, composed and simply marvelous we become as we age — well, yeah, okay. I’m now wiser, smarter and all that stuff but I’m also falling apart!! Ephron gets this, she acknowledges it. And if you can’t laugh about your body heading down the tubes, what are you gonna do? Cry? Who wants to cry? I’m too busy propping myself up, squinting at prescription bottle labels and researching new ailments on the Internet to friggin’ cry. I want to laugh. I might as well — it’s a form of acceptance.

While I don’t obsess about everything Ephron does (i.e. the neck thing — although I now find myself checking it out in the mirror) I can relate to her obsessions because I have my own. Her chapter on Maintenance is a hoot. Be honest. Who hasn’t fallen for the latest anti-aging cream which now, “…sits on the bathroom counter, taking up space, alongside similar testaments to my gullibility.” And hair dye? Ephron credits this as, “…the most powerful weapon older women have against the youth culture…” while describing highlights as, “…little episodes of blondness scattered about your head.”

Ephron is by no means dissing these time-consuming processes to fight the clock – she describes her own tortuous experiences while undergoing both. She admits to her own foibles, pokes fun at herself and invites you to laugh along with her. My God, the woman even admits to having a mustache and discusses unwanted body hair (and how to get rid of it).

She particularly endeared herself to me with her rant regarding failing eyesight and her use of an ever-increasing FONT SIZE. I’m right there with her. As Ephron states, “Reading is everything.” (My boobs can sag and my stomach jiggle but when the eyesight begins to go, that is truly a disaster.)

The very last chapter ends on a more serious, contemplative note as Ephron tackles the issues of friends dying, illness and her own mortality. These too are stages in life we must all deal with one day. Some of us already have. Without being flippant or diminishing the sadness these topics elicit, Ephron writes about them with both respect and humour.

Read this book and you’ll meet a woman who empathizes with you — who is able to make you laugh with her own honest and endearing accounts of being a woman in this crazy day and age. She treads where many female authors dare not go. I’m so glad she did. Her message? You are not alone. There are others “out there” who at this very moment are also wondering what the hell is going on as their bodies (and brains) undergo the transformation from bright and perky to, uhm…ah…what’s that word I’m looking for??

We’re all on a wild and wacky adventure as we wend our way through the maze of being female in this world. Ephron points out the highs and lows of the journey — with grace, humour and a wonderful self-depreciating wit.

6 comments:

oreneta said...

This sounds like a winner... I am on the very beginnings of this process, but I must admit, I can see the changes starting already...this sounds good, and funny.

Planning on shaving my head till my hair is about half and inch long at some point...warned the hubby a couple of days ago. Probably not for a few years but it's a coming...

Beth said...

oreneta - Half an inch? Easy to care for but a pretty drastic change. I once had mine at about an inch. Not so bad but never did it again.
Think it over! Takes a long time to grow it back.

Attila The Mom said...

Thanks for such a great review!

I'm hitting the big four-oh one month from today....

My Big Kid turned 20 yesterday. At least for a month I can claim to have been a teen mom! arrghhh

I'm going to put this on my "to read" list. Maybe it will help me through the crisis!

Beth said...

attila - Almost 40? You're still a baby! But it's never too early to read this book. It is so damned funny.
I have one teenager left. Once he hits 20 I'm going to feel old - or, older.

Nomad said...

Gosh, Loved your post, OMGoodness can sooo relate, but only in the last year or so...I will look her up, my next Amazon.uk purchase for sure. I always figued over 40 was the "NO-SHIT" decade and while it is (which is great) it also seems to be alot of other NO things too...

NO more tummy tone...
NO more perky boobs...
No more all-nighters...
No more patience with idiots...

It goes on...

Oreneta...I have always quoted you as saying you couldn't wait to be realy old and wrinkly cause you can't wait to see how "INTERESTING" it will make you look. Guess that is a skin not hair thing?? :-)

Beth said...

nomad - I think Ephron covers just about every "no" you mentioned - and then some. It really is hilarious to read about the effort many (most?) women put in to turn back the clock - which just keeps on ticking...